Monday, May 7, 2012

The US Cycling Hall of Fame Fondo

A few years ago, the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame was relocated to Davis, California.  Since Davis is only a 2-hour drive away, I’ve been looking for an excuse to check it out.  So, when an add popped up on Facebook for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame Legends Gran Fondo, I immediately sent Coach Tim a text we both registered for the ride.

In addition to checking out the Hall of Fame, the Legends Gran Fondo also provided the opportunity to ride a few of the legends in U.S. cycling.  With us on the start line was Nelson Vails, Ruthie Matthes, Mike McCarthy, George Mount and Jacquie Phelan to name a few.  Coach Tim grew up on cycling during the Greg LeMond era and knew who all of these people were. 

As the ride got closer, I did the math on what time the ride started and what time we would have to leave to get there.  It wasn’t good.  Realistically, to get there early enough to park, get our race packets, and then be on the start line for the 7:00 a.m. call up meant leaving Santa Rosa by 4:30 a.m.  After a few clicks of the computer I found a hotel 2-blocks away for $100. 

IMG_3750We get to Davis Saturday night and check in to the hotel.  Then, it was down to get our packets and off to an Irish pub for dinner.  Back at the hotel we settled into our pre-ride routine of pinning our number to our jersey, putting the timing chip on the bike, charging the Garmins, filling water bottles, and other assorted activities. 

It was beautiful and warm we we headed out for coffee Sunday morning with only one issue.  The wind was already howling and it would play a big role in how the day went.  After coffee and croissants, we get to the start line, listen as each legend is introduced and then we’re off.

We turned left out the starting area and were immediately buffeted with strong cross winds.  As we made our way out of town, we tried to hide from the wind inside the group.  However, after 7 miles of 18+ mph with major cross winds, I knew I couldn’t hang and had to drop back.  Of course, now I’m fighting the wind alone.  So I just kept pedaling and rode as best I could knowing that eventually we would make a left turn that offered a kick-ass tail wind.

Let me share a few stats about the wind .  The almanac for yesterday measured sustained winds of 13 – 20 mph with gusts up to 30.  Just before the left turn I was pushing a 42x21 with a cadence of 80, a heart rate of 156 and going 10 mph.  Once I turned and picked up the tailwind my gear went to 52x12, my heart rate came down to 135 and my speed went up 28 mph.

Coach Tim with Nelson VailsThis was pretty much the rest of the ride.  We only got about 10 miles of tailwind in the entire 63 mile route so the majority of the day was spent with the wind as our constant companion.  It didn’t ruin the ride by any means but I was completely flogged by the end.  Perhaps the highlight of the day was when Tim got into a train with some of the legends before the first rest stop.  At one point, he was pulling up front and couldn’t believe the names of the people riding his wheel.

Would I ride it again?  I don’t think so.  It wasn’t a bad ride but there was only one 15 mile stretch in the middle that was very scenic and the rest was all farmland and orchards.  Will I keep looking for new rides to try?  Hell yeah!  Because even if the ride doesn’t go well, as Coach Tim always likes to say, “now you have a story my friend.”


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